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Puppy training is the foundations of a great companion, this is one of the most important parts of its growing up.


Consideration must be taken on the length of time spent in training a pup.  It is very important to not overdo it with a young pup to ensure no damage is done to the muscles or bones.  Exercise must be gentle and not for too long.  No jumping down from any height.  When the dog jumps up it is not as bad as its not loading too much on its front legs.  Always ensure when the pup is playing with other dogs that it is not for too long and it does not get too rough.  If they start to play fight, monitor it, and gain their attention with a noise, to try and slow them down a little if required. If this does not work separate them and make sure the pup has time to rest.

Socialization of a pup is not just about meeting other dogs.  The pup needs to encounter as much as possible without over doing it.  Traffic could be an issue so, if possible, take the pup and another dog for company for a walk near where vehicles are passing.  Introduce it to the noise of cars and other vehicles gently.  If the pup shows any signs of distress walk away and try another day.  Meeting children for the first time could be an issue as children love pups and want to pick them up and play.  When they do encounter children, please make sure you put ground rules in and tell the children to be quiet and no chasing the pup.  The pup may find long or short grass, stubble and muddy puddles an issue so again, keep an eye out for the reactions of the pup. Again, we need to approach everything gently.

Play Training

We will now look at some play training with the pup and some handler ground rules too.  It is my belief that we should use as fewer commands as possible and the one command I personally do not use is “Stay”.  I use the sit command for stay.  The pup is told to sit and to sit there until given another command.  The art of training a pup to sit and stay in one position is not to cut corners. Without this command in place, it would be difficult to complete most of our other requirements in the training.  The sit command is undertaken from an early age and can be introduced whilst feeding the pup.  Begin by lifting the food bowl high above the pup’s head and give the command sit but only when it sits. The sit command is the noise you make when the action is complete.  As soon as the pup sits, place the bowl on the floor.  It does not take long for the pup to understand sit means it is rewarded by the food.  Moving on a little ask the pup to sit and whenever possible hold a flat palm in front of the pup.  When the pup is sitting take one step back and repeat the command.  If the pup moves you must always put it back where it came from, do not cut corners.  Soon you will be able to walk further away from the pup and start to walk all the way around it.  At this stage I never call the pup in, the handler should always return to the pup.  If you call the pup in, you are asking it not to sit so we should not confuse where possible.  If the pup continues to get up and move do not be harsh as the pup will not understand what is wrong.  The pup wants to be with you so be very gentle.  It will soon understand that you are not leaving it for long.  Continue the sit training with your pup and very soon it will be easy for you to maintain.

We now need to introduce the puppy to the slip lead.   Get the pup in a place where it is happy. Normally this will be in your house or in the garden.  Show it the lead touch the pup with it but be sure not to torment it with it.  Gently take hold of the pup and put the lead around the neck and then take it off show the pup it is not a problem and it’s all a game.  Keep doing this whilst the pup is in your arms.  Eventually we can put the pup on the ground and let it walk around with the lead on.  If it pulls you then go with it don’t try to stop it or walk it at heel just yet.  Let the pup take you where it wants, we can sort heel work out when the pup is happy with the lead. When the pup starts to relax, we should try and encourage it towards us and when it turns to us, we reward this action with a soft voice.  We can then start to walk the pup in the direction we want.  Increase the length of time the pup is on the lead but ensure it is all a good experience.

 We need the pup to retrieve, and we should again make sure it’s fun, let the pup run in and fetch a thrown ball. Say its name when you throw the ball, this later will be the send command for a retrieve.  We are then wanting the pup to come back with the ball.  We should be sitting on the floor and encourage the pup into our front.  Be prepared to get wet and muddy.  We for now are not looking for a perfect delivery. When the pup comes back don’t try and take the ball off it straight away. Let it hold the ball for a few seconds then repeat the throwing exercise.

The pup is more important than the retrieve at this point. Without a pup you have no retrieve. You could also use a rolled-up sock for this.  I would try to do it in an area where the pup will not be distracted.  If you are doing it in your house the hallway would be a good place to start.  If the pup puts down the ball it is not a big issue right now.  Watch out around 4 months of age as this is when the pup will begin to lose its puppy teeth and may have a sore mouth.  It should not be an issue if you are using a soft retrieve toy like a sock.  Most of all if things are not going to plan make sure you take advice from a good trainer.  

Photos by Caro Dell of working line Images.


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